Lucas Clasen, aka Sulka played this album launch, with a little help from his friends – a great night!
First up was Elephant in Red, a Glasgow-based four-piece led by Luke with former Catholic Action man Chris McCrory on drums.
They played a set of mid-paced guitar-based tracks, which caught the attention with some slightly eccentric tunings and interplay. With interesting lyrics from Luke and a couple of tracks which stood out from the crowd (one sounded to BM’s ears like ‘Bends’-era Radiohead), they put in a great shift as first support.
It was noted (by others) there were few if any guitar pedals deployed here, which maybe made the sound a bit rawer and warmer. There has been a release or two of music but BM thinks at least a couple of these tracks tonight were brand new.
Next up was Susan Bear, joined by Pictish Trail (and others!) drummer Ian for a two-person Italo-rave hoedown. With a highly individual synth/other devices/vocal mic and some form of autotune, Susan (who BM has seen play pretty much every instrument over the years in various incarnations and bands) certainly challenged herself with this but the results were really quite something.
No idea of any track names (SB might not either), the BPM was high, the synth washes epic and urgent, the choruses anthemic and the vocals low in the mix and mainly repeated phrases, at times treated. This was effectively a series of party bangers, given more immediacy by the live drums from one of Scotland and beyond’s best sticksmen – and there was great chemistry between the two of them, anticipating each other’s moves, very instinctive for what was a debut live performance, BM was led to believe.
Then Sulka took the stage, Lucas (guitar and vocals) playing tonight with Fionn from Kilgour on bass, Jimi on drums and BM thinks Niamh on keys.
The new album ‘Distractions’ (out now on Lost Map Records), though not the first Sulka release, is the first real band studio effort (produced by Chris M at Chem19) and the band played pretty much all of it tonight to great effect.
The material is varied, from the full blast of ‘Vanish’ and ‘Wild Horse’ to more reflective semi-acoustic numbers like opener like ‘Hints’. What did they sound like – actually quite hard to pin down but BM would mention Whipping Boy, Nirvana and Kid Canaveral although at best they sound like Sulka – there is a distinctive sound, may best coming out in tracks like ‘Ephemeral’, which combine yearning lyricism, gentle melody and backing vocals with some vigorous guitar/bass/ drum thrash.
They did play a brace of older tracks closer to the end of the gig (see previous BM reviews of some of these) but to these ears the new album is the best Sulka record yet and a step towards wider recognition for a very talented songwriter and his friends.